Barack Obama's Curious Rabbi

In a Chicago Sun-Times piece published today  , Rabbi  Arnold Wolf again praises Barack Obama and vouches for him when it comes to his foreign policy and views towards Israel. He also claims to have been a classmate of Paul Wolfowitz at Yale, which is hard to believe given a twenty-plus year disparity in age. The Rabbi did teach at Yale but it is very unlikely he was ever actually in the same classroom as Wolfowitz.

Beyond that, I have done a bit of research on Rabbi Wolf. He is active in Britz Tzedek v'Shalom: The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace - a group that has been harshly critical of Israel and has advocated increased American pressure on Israel. The group has given him over the top praise, including claiming he is "considered by many to be the finest English stylist in the American rabbinate" - a bit of hyperbole, perhaps. In any case, he is a member of their Rabbinic Cabinet.

His involvement with that group -- ignored by the media that carries his columns and op-eds to vouch for Barack Obama on his support for the American-Israel alliance -- might give some people qualms. Rabbi Arnold Wolf's involvement in  a group with a history of engaging in constant criticism of Israel should not reassure American supporters of one of our most imperiled allies; nor should his own problematic history.

Wolf's activism started early-going back to the 1940s:
In the 1940s, Rabbi Wolf served as the American representative to Brit Shalom, joining other renowned Jewish leaders including Judah Magnes, Martin Buber, and Henrietta Szold in calling for "Jewish-Arab cooperation, as both necessary and possible." In 1949, he was instrumental in founding Israel's Givat Haviva Educational Institute, created to educate for peace, democracy, coexistence and social solidarity.
 
In 1973, Rabbi Wolf served as founding chair of the American Jewish movement
Breira: A Project of Concern in Diaspora-Israel Relations. In its first public statement, Breira called for Israel to make territorial concessions and recognize the legitimacy of the national aspirations of the Palestinian people in order to achieve lasting peace.
 
Rabbi Wolf was invited to address the United Nation's 1989 Conference on the Question of Palestine.
His involvement in Breira generated concern in the Jewish community because it was perceived to be a group that was critical of Israel. Should his participation in a United Nations conference on the Question of Palestine reassure people of his own bona fides ?

He appeared on a panel with Ali Abunimah-founder of the Electronic Intifada and a pro-Palestinian activist with strogn and long-lasting personal ties to Barack Obama 
and Emily Hauser ( a harsh anti-Israel critic), that sought to justify and support anti-Israel criticism and refute the charges that anti-Semitism might be involved in such criticism..

Should we accept the words of Rabbi Wolf regarding Barack Obama's foreign policy views when Wolf's own views and actions do not inspire confidence?

Rabbis are often esteemed members of the Jewish community -- and for good reason. However, each rabbi should be viewed as an individual and a mere title should not grant legitimacy about all their views-especially when they veer into politics. After all, Meir Kahane was a rabbi, too. That did not grant him infallibility.
In a Chicago Sun-Times piece published today  , Rabbi  Arnold Wolf again praises Barack Obama and vouches for him when it comes to his foreign policy and views towards Israel. He also claims to have been a classmate of Paul Wolfowitz at Yale, which is hard to believe given a twenty-plus year disparity in age. The Rabbi did teach at Yale but it is very unlikely he was ever actually in the same classroom as Wolfowitz.

Beyond that, I have done a bit of research on Rabbi Wolf. He is active in Britz Tzedek v'Shalom: The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace - a group that has been harshly critical of Israel and has advocated increased American pressure on Israel. The group has given him over the top praise, including claiming he is "considered by many to be the finest English stylist in the American rabbinate" - a bit of hyperbole, perhaps. In any case, he is a member of their Rabbinic Cabinet.

His involvement with that group -- ignored by the media that carries his columns and op-eds to vouch for Barack Obama on his support for the American-Israel alliance -- might give some people qualms. Rabbi Arnold Wolf's involvement in  a group with a history of engaging in constant criticism of Israel should not reassure American supporters of one of our most imperiled allies; nor should his own problematic history.

Wolf's activism started early-going back to the 1940s:
In the 1940s, Rabbi Wolf served as the American representative to Brit Shalom, joining other renowned Jewish leaders including Judah Magnes, Martin Buber, and Henrietta Szold in calling for "Jewish-Arab cooperation, as both necessary and possible." In 1949, he was instrumental in founding Israel's Givat Haviva Educational Institute, created to educate for peace, democracy, coexistence and social solidarity.
 
In 1973, Rabbi Wolf served as founding chair of the American Jewish movement
Breira: A Project of Concern in Diaspora-Israel Relations. In its first public statement, Breira called for Israel to make territorial concessions and recognize the legitimacy of the national aspirations of the Palestinian people in order to achieve lasting peace.
 
Rabbi Wolf was invited to address the United Nation's 1989 Conference on the Question of Palestine.
His involvement in Breira generated concern in the Jewish community because it was perceived to be a group that was critical of Israel. Should his participation in a United Nations conference on the Question of Palestine reassure people of his own bona fides ?

He appeared on a panel with Ali Abunimah-founder of the Electronic Intifada and a pro-Palestinian activist with strogn and long-lasting personal ties to Barack Obama 
and Emily Hauser ( a harsh anti-Israel critic), that sought to justify and support anti-Israel criticism and refute the charges that anti-Semitism might be involved in such criticism..

Should we accept the words of Rabbi Wolf regarding Barack Obama's foreign policy views when Wolf's own views and actions do not inspire confidence?

Rabbis are often esteemed members of the Jewish community -- and for good reason. However, each rabbi should be viewed as an individual and a mere title should not grant legitimacy about all their views-especially when they veer into politics. After all, Meir Kahane was a rabbi, too. That did not grant him infallibility.